Charles Schultz: Understanding the man behind Charlie Brown

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"Peanuts" debuted in seven U.S. papers in 1950

(WYTV) – Charles Schultz, who died 20 years ago, lives on in his “Peanuts” comic strip and TV specials.

“Peanuts” debuted in seven U.S. papers in 1950.

Now, it appears in more than 20 languages and 355 million people can see it each day in 75 countries.

Where did the name Charlie Brown come from? From Schulz’s friend and colleague Charlie Brown at art school in Minneapolis, where Schultz was an instructor following his return from World War II.

Snoopy was based on a black and white pointer named Spike that Schulz owned as a child, and Schulz’s mother said, “Let’s name our next family dog ‘Snoopy.'”

In the comics, Charlie Brown never actually met the girl he longed for, the Little Red-Haired Girl, but Charles Schultz did. He based the comic character on a real person, Donna Mae Johnson, a red-haired woman Schulz met at his art school.

Schulz proposed to Donna Mae and she said no, thanks.

Charles Schulz had health problems and said he’d retire in December of 1999.

He died of cancer in February of 2000, one day before his final Sunday strip was published, comic strip number 17,897.

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